Be a Movie Reviewer: Education and Career Roadmap

Aug 14, 2018

Research the requirements to become a movie reviewer. Learn about the job description, and read the step-by-step process to start a career in film criticism.

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  • 0:00 Should I Become a…
  • 0:24 Career Requirements
  • 1:02 Steps to Become a Film…

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Should I Become a Movie Reviewer?

Movie reviewers, or film critics, are professional writers who specialize in critiquing films. They view movies and then analyze various elements to form an assessment based on their opinion. Film critics may be freelancers or employed by a publication. This work is typically deadline driven.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field(s) Journalism, film studies, English, or communications
Key Skills Writing skills; creativity, determination, and persuasiveness; knowledge of graphic design, multimedia software, and page layout for those publishing online content
Salary $60,250 (2015 median annual salary for authors and writers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

A bachelor's degree in journalism, film studies, English, or communications is typically needed to work as a movie reviewer. These professionals should have strong writing skills, creativity, determination, and persuasiveness. Additionally, movie reviewers publishing online content should have knowledge of graphic design, multimedia software, and page layout.

According to 2015 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, authors and writers earned a median annual salary of $60,250.

Steps to Become a Movie Reviewer

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

As a writing-intensive career, movie reviewers must earn bachelor's degrees to be qualified for most paid positions. The most relevant majors are film studies, journalism, English, or communications. Majoring in film or cinema studies trains students in film analysis theories and provides insight into the workings of the movie industry. Courses cover such topics as the history of film, various film genres, film theory, and the history of movie criticism.

Journalism programs, which teach practical fact-gathering and writing skills along with theory and ethics, provide practice in writing clearly, concisely, and compellingly. Journalism departments can also help students find internships at professional publications and offer networking opportunities with established writers. English and communications courses, though less connected to film reviewing specifically, provide sound training for writing and other media professions.

Writing for a college newspaper, finding a media-related internship, and being active in a student film society are all great ways to start building a résumé and portfolio of work.

Step 2: Begin Publishing Regularly

As an industry, print-based publications have struggled in recent years, and competition is fierce for popular assignments, like film criticism. Graduates may find more immediate film-reviewing work at smaller publications. Others may initially have to take assignments that have nothing to do with reviewing films and work their way up. Establishing a track record of producing quality work while meeting deadlines is the most important goal when entering this field.

Online publishing, however, has opened up new possibilities for movie reviewers and other writers. Film critics may now hone their craft through Internet blog posts or self-publishing. Skillful, unique, or popular articles may help a blogger gain notoriety and potentially land a paid position.

Step 3: Seek Advancement at Larger Publications

Film critics, like other writers, typically pursue advancement by looking for positions at larger, more prestigious publications and/or transitioning into other forms of media as well. Many reviewers hold multiple positions as critics for print and Internet publications, TV programs, and radio shows. Established film critics may also consider becoming members of various professional film critics associations, such as the Broadcast Film Critics Association or the Women Film Critics Circle.

Film critics typically possess at least a bachelor's degree in film studies, communications, journalism, or English. Employers might require candidates to submit a portfolio of work samples, and experience might be required.

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